Can You Meal Prep With Rice? Rice And Meal Prepping Tips

Meal prepping with rice is a very common option for meal prep lovers. Rice is a great choice for cooking as it’s easy to make and you’ve got healthy options as well.

Read on to learn what you need to know!

Is It Safe to Meal Prep Rice for a Week or More?

The best advice to follow is to refrigerate rice within two hours after cooking. You can leave it for longer but it’s not really a good idea.

You can also freeze it to keep it fresh although sometimes it can take a bit extra to get it back to its fluffy and soft texture when reheating.

Is It Safe to Eat Leftover Rice?

Eating leftover rice is fine if you cooked it within the last 24 hours. Usually, eating leftover rice from the night before is ok. However, there is a chance that uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacteria that causes food poisoning.

These harmful bacteria will survive cooking. The longer the cooked rice sits at ambient temperature the more the bacteria can grow. Bear this in mind in order to play it safe.

Not all rice contains this bacteria and it is not 100% certain that the bacteria will hang around after cooking.

Refrigeration vs Freezing Cooked Rice

The difference between refrigerating and freezing cooked rice is how long you want it to last. If you keep it in the fridge, it will last for about 24 hours.

If you freeze it it will keep for about a month or so.

Preparing Rice for Meal Prepping

Preparing rice for meal prepping is easy. Let’s go over how to make it and what the storage process involves a little deeper here.

1. Cooking

Cooking rice is best done in a rice cooker. However, you can also cook it in an InstantPot, a Crock-Pot, or on your stove in a pot or pan. 

Personally I cook my brown rice in a pan and add just the right amount of water, bring it to a boil, then cook on a low heat setting on the stove for about 12 minutes. The result is great!

Many bags of rice have water recommendations so all you’ll need is a measuring cup to get right.

2. After Cooking (Storage)

After cooking your rice, you will want to pair it with the other ingredients in your meal prep recipe. Maybe it’s a bell pepper and chicken recipe. Perhaps it is a stir fry recipe. Either way, you will need to store it in a meal prep container for the days ahead.

Remember, it’s best to freeze leftover rice or be sure to use any you refrigerate within the next 24 hours. Try to avoid leaving it at ambient temperature.

It’s also crucial that you try to freeze it as soon as you can after cooking to prevent it from hardening. Rice that’s placed in the refrigerator and not frozen will be good for few days but often become dry and hardens after that.

Brown Rice vs White Rice

Brown rice is often the more nutritious kind of rice versus white rice due to its whole grain composition. White rice is more often than not enriched and processed.

It’s great for jambalaya, fried rice, or veggie burgers.

Cooked brown rice has a longer lifespan and can keep for 4-6 days in the fridge versus the shorter lifespan of traditional white rice.

When you reheat the rice, be sure to use a wet paper towel over the top of the bowl.

Rice Alternatives

Of course, if you want to meal prep a grain option but want to avoid the intricacies of rice, there are a few options. There are also a few options for non-grain kinds of rice we will share with you.

A few good options for a grain replacement to rice are:

  • Quinoa
  • Bulgur
  • Pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Couscous
  • Barley

Some options for a rice variety that is not grain-based include:

  • Cauliflower rice
  • Riced broccoli
  • Finely chopped cabbage

All of the options presented here have their benefits and nutrition facts that you should check out before using them as a substitute in your next meal prep recipe.

How to Meal Prep Rice Without It Getting Hard

how to meal prep rice without it getting hard

The best way to meal prep rice is to put it in sealed meal containers while it’s still full of moisture. Moving it to the freezer (and especially a freezer) quickly means it won’t have a chance to dry out before storage.

When you reheat the rice, you can add a little water (about a tablespoon or two) and top the container with a wet paper towel. This keeps moisture inside the microwave as the rice reheats.

How Much Rice Should I Make for Meal Prepping?

how much rice should i make for meal prepping

About one cup of cooked rice for each person is the perfect serving.

In general, one cup of uncooked white rice will yield three cups of fully-cooked white rice. Follow this guideline when you begin your meal prep plans by dividing the number of meals you need by 3 in order to know how much to cook.

One cup of uncooked brown rice yields two cups of hot brown rice. Similarly, divide the number of meals you’re making by 2 in order to know how many cups to cook.

What Size Should Meal Prep Containers Be?

what size should meal prep containers be 1

The size of the meal prep container you need depends on the portion size and types of meals you’re making. For single portions, about 3 cups (around 820mL) or 24 oz are good and enough for a single small meal. 

Divided containers are even better as they allow you to keep food separate and avoid mixing (especially with liquids or sauces in them). For a main entree plus 2 sides, 32 oz to 36 oz style divided containers are great. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

frequently asked questions faqs 2

Can you freeze rice to keep it fresh and taste good?

Yes, freezing rice will keep it fresh and preserve its taste for the most part. It’s not quite the same as rice that’s just been cooked, but when stored while moist the results are pretty good.

When you reheat the frozen rice, add a little bit of water to the microwave-safe bowl or container. Then cover it with a paper towel or alternately you can also steam it a bit to restore it to nearly perfect freshness!

Is rice ok to eat cold?

It is ok to eat rice cold. If the reason it is cold is that you kept it in the refrigerator it should be fine.

However cold rice shouldn’t be left out and allowed to warm up over time as this could mean the potential  for bacteria growth.

Is it safe to cook rice in a rice cooker?

Using a rice cooking machine is the preferred method of preparation by many people and is not hazardous at all.

Using a rice cooking appliance is a much easier method that requires less maintenance throughout cooking. Cooking rice on a stovetop is a bit harder as you have to be careful to not let it boil over. Cooking rice on a stove can also lead to dried-out rice and even burned rice if not attended to properly.

Using a rice cooker is better in that regards (it’s easier).

James Marshall

About the author

James is a business management professional and consultant with a former background in maintenance, repair, and hands-on projects. He enjoys DIY tasks and maintenance around the home as well as part-time writing. Read more »